Monday, 29 October 2018

Treating Tommy: a day in the life of a British Military Hospital in World War One

During the First World War, the military hospital day in hospitals like Lewisham Military Hospital usually began at 6.00am. If able, men would make their beds and wash themselves.

The men had to wear a special hospital uniform. This was a blue jacket and trousers, a white shirt and a red tie. You can see the men wearing hospital uniform in the photograph below.

Patients wearing hospital uniform at Lewisham Military Hospital. ⒸLewisham Local History and Archives Centre.

 Breakfast was at 7.30am. Porridge, tea and eggs. Eggs were often donated by local residents who kept hens. Presumably they were keen to support the war effort.

After breakfast, those patients who were able helped to clean up the ward and do the washing up. Hygiene was essential to prevent disease and infection. Dressings were also changed in the mornings.
11am. Doctor’s inspection. After this patients were free to exercise in the hospital grounds until 1.00pm when lunch was served.

Lunch was usually meat, vegetables and a pudding.

In the afternoon, patients would have free time. They might visit the local town or attend parties hosted by local charities. Concerts and gramophone recitals would also have taken place. At Lewisham Military Hospital some patients were even treated to a motor car outing!

Article from the Kentish Mercury. ⒸLewisham Local History and Archives Centre.

About 7.00pm patients were served supper. A typical supper would have been cocoa, bread and butter.

Most patients recovered and many would have been sent back to the front lines to continue fighting.
Others did not survive. On 25 May 1915, the Kentish Mercury reported the first funeral of a soldier at Lewisham Military Hospital.

First funeral of a soldier from Lewisham Military Hospital.ⒸLewisham Local History and Archives Centre.

Julie Robinson, Local Studies Librarian, Lewisham Local History and Archives Centre.

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